{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "New auditor here, I see most auditors get booked for 10- 12 hours on engagements during busy season. But heard everyone’s working 65 hours to 100 hours a week during that time. Does that mean almost everyone is eating their hours in big four and midsize firms ? If you’re assigned for 12 hours daily, Monday to Friday, but actually working 15 hours and weekends, do you book 12 hours Monday to Friday ? Or the actual hours you worked including weekends ?", "post_id": "6160de768106d1002aaf6c7e", "reply_count": 61, "vote_count": 4, "bowl_id": "564a5cdb94887803001dd07c", "bowl_name": "Accounting" }

New auditor here, I see most auditors get booked for 10- 12 hours on engagements during busy season. But heard everyone’s working 65 hours to 100 hours a week during that time. Does that mean almost everyone is eating their hours in big four and midsize firms ? If you’re assigned for 12 hours daily, Monday to Friday, but actually working 15 hours and weekends, do you book 12 hours Monday to Friday ? Or the actual hours you worked including weekends ?

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This s across pretty much all firms. Eating hours is a dumb concept that we all follow because everyone wants to promote and succeed and no one wants an ass chewing for going over budget. You get a little bit of leeway as a new staff because everyone knows you don’t know what you’re doing at first. But that does not necessarily mean they charged your extra hours back to the client. It means the firm writes off your excess time as a loss when they submit billing to the client. Which makes your own utilization not as good. So we eat time. And we accept that we’re just “paying our dues/grinding it out/being a dependable teammate.” That’s the general crux of the issue. That and you were recruited in the land of fairy tales where you get sign-on bonuses, were way overpaid as an intern for your motivation and skill level, and firm propaganda marketing crap (like iPads and gift cards and prizes and shirts and backpacks etc.) until you signed your formal offer letter as a salaried employee… and now you’re finding out too late what a hoax it is that “PA offers open-door policies, healthy corporate culture, work-life balance lol, and much better pay than all your graduating friends in other fields.”

I’ve seen teams being super intense about every hour charged, or teams that don’t care at all. It’s usually easy to figure out, you can tell your senior/manager that you charged 10 more hours than scheduled for one week, see if they start grilling you about where those overruns are from, or if they look at you like you are being weird for communicating a personal decision. Fortunately my teams are usually the ones not really care about hours. We’ve only had a time where the partner did not believe us for saying a staff was extremely underperforming, and we had to pull his hours to show the partner that he was charging twice the time as the staff last year and his peers on the team. From our view, we knew the staff was struggling without seeing the hours, but sometimes partners were so far removed they only believe hours charged as evidence. But generally, managers should be responsible for budget overruns, and if they blame you, they are just bad at their jobs and time for you to move on from the team. As a staff/senior I always eat my hours just because charging truthfully does not bring me benefit, but charging actual has a tiny chance of hurting me. If a manager/partner treats us well and asks us to charge actual, I’d do it, but that only happened once in my career

KPMG 5- to your point on retaliation, yes that is frequently what happens, and it is subtle. Rarely will a director or partner will come out and say they are unhappy with your time. Instead, you get rumors started in the management group about how inefficient, or careless, or clueless you are. This creates a reputation. Then, at some point, the retaliation takes its ultimate form- people won’t want to staff you on their jobs, which hurts your utilization much more than shaving a few hours off your time sheet here and there. From there, the downward spiral occurs. And please, no whiny replies that “the firm has a strict non-retaliation policy…” Every company does, but it happens every day in subtle ways that cannot be proven.

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always charge your actual hours

likefunnysmart

A lot of these people saying to not eat hours have never been yelled at for charging over

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I was given a day off for all my hour eatings 😎

Everyone eats hours, everyone is saying they don’t and “charge all your time” is simply lying to you.

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Nope. Report all your hours. That’s your job. If you eat hours your stupid. If you eat hours because you don’t want your managers to see the real time you work, then your team culture is stupid.

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Bud, you are gonna learn it is dependent on your client and team. Yes we should not eat hours. However, I was in audit for 2 busy seasons before I switched into advisory and even in advisory we had so much client pressure that the SM, manager, and seniors all ate hours because of the fees being charged to client. As for my audit days, depending on your team, my budgets were tight and monitored consistently so we either had to eat hours, or park them in another code that did not get blown. This was mainly due to management not knowing how to allocate time appropriately to areas in the audit and the same issue will continue to happen since they do not learn that some areas need more hours than others. Hey that was just my team though and client pressure plays a big role along with how strict your team is with budget and how the allocate hours for tasks (hence my team was not good at this part even after we voiced our estimates of what the allocations should be since we actually do the work).

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We do not have free choice. We are beholden to our employers and the leadership at said employers.

Teams: “charge all your hours. Also make sure you’re cognizant of the budget.” Aka you gotta be a hungry hippo sometimes. Most people other than staff eat hours. Only difference is how big their reserve is

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I’m in tax, and while we do tend to have large write offs on our compliance engagements, most of my headaches (and getting yelled at) arises because of audit teams on channel 1 engagements. Every year when audit teams try to cut budget, they think tax should be an appropriate place to start. They ask us to propose a budget, we do, and then they tell us it’s way too much. When we tell them what they’re countering with isn’t reasonable, they say it is (even though most audit managers and senior managers I’ve spoken to have no idea how tax works and legit don’t look at our workpapers until 2-3 days before filing), and then we still end up going over. Then they’re shocked we went over (and this doesn’t even include all the hours the team didn’t charge, which at some of the lower levels I think can be 20%). Tax partner hears it from audit team, who then asks senior manager, who then asks manager, and it just trickles down to the bottom. Tax teams are small and by the time the following year rolls around, half of the engagement team members have probably left the firm. Sometimes there are only one or two brand new staff on an account and they’ve never even seen a tax provision before. Some will pick it up, but most need at least twice the amount of time (and it’s still not in reviewable shape). It doesn’t help that we may only work on a client once a year if it’s private or four times if it’s public. The few friends I have left at the firm say their least favorite thing about the job, other than the crazy hours, is dealing with auditors. For all those audit teams out there, please do us a favor and try not to skimp tax teams on their budgets.

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In EY assurance they schedule you for 55 hours a week during busy season. That just means that is the minimum you can expect to work. Depending on your client you may only work 55 hours, or it will likely be more than 55 for at least some weeks. If you are working less than 55 hours a week they will add another job to your schedule. You should be charging all of the hours you work, and never eating hours. That doesn’t do you, your team, and especially nexts years team any favors.

likesmarthelpful

For what it’s worth, I understand the pressure to sometimes eat hours, but I’m a senior manager with the firm for 13 years and I have never eaten any hours and clearly communicate to my teams that they should never eat hours on my jobs (or any others). Best case, we bill the client for more money for the extra effort. Worst case, we take a write off (either justified or not), but at least we get a better sense for what a realistic budget should be.

likeupliftingsmart

Everyone eats hours Unfortunately. I tried to book my actual and got questioned for every extra hour and was told that if we go over budget it will have an effect on my rating….

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Usually I stand my ground and state in my memo *out of scope* projects in order to provide basis for my time spent. I also send a “I don’t eat my hours and charge in full.” In an email. That usually stops the conversation and then it gets fully billed. 😑

Aww I love staff questions. I remember being so innocent too. Charge all your hours. Keep track and send an email when you hit certain milestones of your budget. Example. You are budgeted 500 hours I’d start sending emails to the sr manager and manager once I was over 300 hours and provide the expected hours to complete the project. Charge all time but notify the leaders in advance of exceeding budget - keep the emails and save to a CYA file for that particular client.

likehelpfulfunny

Never eat your hours. I'd happily let them kick me off a team if they have a problem with it. That said - I try to be realistic with my hours, subtract out any unproductive time (chatting with coworkers, scrolling through Instagram, paying bills, etc).

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By eating hours, you’re making billing decisions, which is the manager/sr manager/partner’s job. Communicate as you go so they can adjust the reserve if needed or talk to the client ahead of time regarding OOS. Staff shouldn’t make billing decisions before the work is even completed.

likehelpful

Then it’s on you if you blow it up or not

EY4 has the right idea, but many teams like to play games with the codes to make them look better. They imply that we should in fact not be charging all of our time and give us a very hard time for going over budget. In reality in these situations, the project typically was scoped/estimated incorrectly, mismanaged somehow (e.g. not setting realistic expectations with the client), etc.

likesmart

I’ve seen that for years. I had more than one partner tell me to move my hours out of a fat code and into other (unrelated) codes that had better realization, or even into PD, with all kinds of rationalizations. Just games, imo. It’s this kind of BS that made me stop caring about accuracy as I saw the partners were just as dishonest with each other, as the staff is with them.

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One also must be mindful that just because one has their computer turned on does not mean one is actually working true chargeable work.

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If everyone charged the hours we worked… maybe we’d stop getting screwed and overworked so much… but some people just want to look “smart” or “efficient” compared to their peers. It’s dumb.

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Dumb mostly because nobody is getting fired or “coached out” right now

Charge all the time you ACTUALLY worked. And also be realistic if something should take you 1 hour but it took you 6 Id maybe evaluate why and charge 1.5 or 2 and not the 6. Also since you’re a staff it’s really good to get into good habits like writing down everything you worked on in a day on a daily basis in your notes or even when inputting your time in the description . That way if your hours ever gets questioned they can’t say much since you’ve tracked everything. I know it’s easy to say don’t eat your hours but please be responsible. If you are truly working (actual uninterrupted work) for 15 hours then bill that 15 hours. I’ve gotten burned so many times by eating hours Bc more gets put on my plate. I was really burnt out and when I went to speak up about it they were like I mean you’re only working X Amount of hours ………… just don’t fall into a whole like many has

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@M2 I’m explaining likely scenarios. I’ve seen MANY new associates SPIN THEIR wheels spending hours on something when they could have just asked. That’s not the point here - my point was to guide OP on how to properly bill. I’ve had upper management allow me to bill at least 30 mins to 1 hour of time if it took longer because 1. Not everyone has the same knowledge and abilities 2. It’s all about learning. If your staff does everything in the time that the budget says then that’s great for u but the reality is that that’s not always the case.

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Talk hours expectations at the beginning of every project to understand time line, and then as you approach the ramp up time, revisit and communicate regularly to understand the expectation. Then charge the hours you work. It will be in line with the expectations regardless of the schedule. Please don't eat your time - it makes it worse for everyone else.

likesmart

Change your actual hours

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The pressure to eat hours comes from the engagement leaders who want your help to lie to their leaders to cover up the fact that they under-bid the project or don’t want to ask the client for more money. When you get yelled at for going over budget, that is their fear/anxiety of their personal exposure for getting caught in the lie. When it is reflected in your evaluation it is them deflecting blame back to you. Of course sometimes the reason for the budget overrun is because of staff performance.

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Yes. And they are delicious. I eat it every week.

likefunny

Bon Appetite! And remember, “An (eaten) hour a day keeps the write-off away!”

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Everyone eats hours at some point and anyone who says they haven't is either lying or doesn't realize they have imo lol. Eating hours doesn't only apply to eating time spent working on a client file, it's also the time spent responding to client emails, updating request lists, training staff on your job, discussing things with managers, etc etc. I highly doubt that every single person on this thread saying don't eat your hours tracks every minute of time they spend doing the non-audit file work on their clients and reports it, and if you do props to you for having that advanced of time management skills. I would say (at least from my perspective as a senior at a mid-tier firm) my eating hours has shifted from eating time I would spend trying to figure out what the heck I was doing as a staff to now eating time that I work on my other clients that I'm not scheduled on that week/day on top of whatever I'm actually scheduled on. As a senior at my firm with smaller teams and (mostly privately held) clients I'm generally the sole in-charge of at least 3 to 5 jobs at any given time, and it's inevitable that emails or review comments on another job will come through when I'm not scheduled on it that I have to address on top of my current client, and tbfh I do not have the energy to track all of that time and report it on top of the current job I'm working on. I don't eat the time spent working through the file anymore, but all of the extra stuff I do and I know that's a pretty common trend among my coworkers. The only time I'd report extra time spent is if it's a specific situation that was caused by the client that we could potentially bill overages for, but me spending two hours replying to confirmation email replies or clearing review comments is not extra work for a special problem and not worth the energy to report imo.

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Totally false

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If your computer is on from 8am-9pm, you were not chargeable for 13 hours. Charge all your time but only charge the time you spent legitimately working

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